Heavy pack is a pain in my back

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Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Cooksomerice » Thu May 16, 2013 1:54 am

Never climbed. Never carried a heavy pack. Very fit. Strong upper body. however, I am Currently a couple of weeks into training for a guided climb of Rainier in July and having trouble adjusting to a weighted pack.
I picked up a used Cilo 65 liter pack and have loaded it down with all my gear and some additional weight in the form of water bottles. Total weight around 40lbs..
I have played with weight distribution, shoulder straps,etc.,but still, my shoulders, traps and upper back scream for me to quit after just a mile or so.
Is this normal?
is it the pack?
Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by artrock23 » Fri May 17, 2013 5:40 am

This does not sound "normal", and yes, it may be the pack (although i'm unfamiliar with the pack you mention). Then again, as you stated that you're not used to carrying a full weight backpack, it may be that you just need to train more with the pack on and carrying a similar weight to what you will on your trip.

I typically carry between 40-50lbs, when snow/ice travel are likely. Last year, I went from a 10+ year old Jansport pack (the Cascade 90) to a new Osprey Aether 70. The difference was considerable. The Osprey is quite comfortable. If possible, you may want to consider trying some other packs and see if you notice a difference.

Good luck!

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Yury » Sat May 18, 2013 3:34 am

Cooksomerice wrote:... Very fit. Strong upper body. however ... Cilo 65 liter pack ... Total weight around 40lbs... my shoulders, traps and upper back scream for me to quit after just a mile or so.
Is this normal?
is it the pack?
Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.
Is this a real question or just trolling?
It's hard to believe that a very fit person may have challenge with such modest weight.

By the way, what weight was "Cilo 65" designed for?

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by splattski » Sat May 18, 2013 1:21 pm

There isn't a lot of information to work with here, but it sounds like perhaps your pack is the wrong size. If the pack is too small, it's very difficult to get any weight off your shoulders and onto your hips.

I'd recommend taking the pack to a reputable store and offer to pay them to fit your pack to you. If they advise you to get a different size, do it. They'll be able to load up a pack and demonstrate to you that a properly-fitted 40 lb pack is not painful.

I can comfortably carry 60 lbs in my pack, and I've even carried 70. And I'm an old man.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Osterizer » Sat May 18, 2013 4:32 pm

Sounds like your pack doesn't fit right. Sometimes I get a painful pinching feeling in my sholders and neck, but thats after days of backpacking. You might be wearing your pack too tight; Losen it up a little. Your hips should be carrying the weight and your sholders keep the pack from moving around. And make sure the pack is the right size (torso).

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by mountainhare » Sat May 18, 2013 11:13 pm

I encounter the same symptoms with just moderate weight - perhaps thirty pounds or so - in my pack. Maybe not so soon as the first mile, but my shoulders will be in rough shape after a few miles carrying thirty pounds.

For me, at least, the two points of diagnosis - small pack and wearing it tightly - do apply. I have never really explored wearing it more loosely; I look forward to giving that a shot.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by MoapaPk » Sun May 19, 2013 5:37 pm

Cilogear fitting info

I'm looking through the old literature, and don't see a Cilogear 65L, except in the haul packs. Cilo packs were generally made with a bias toward no internal frames, and travel while climbing on big walls or other extreme routes. Can you show us a picture of your pack?

EDIT: "Some taller folks (taller than 6'2-6'3) won't fit very well into the Cilo Gear Packs. The flip side of that is the fact that smaller framed men really like the Cilo Gear packs; they also work well for smaller narrower shouldered women. "
Last edited by MoapaPk on Mon May 20, 2013 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Marcsoltan » Mon May 20, 2013 2:59 am

Being very fit and having a strong upper body does not guarantee comfort in carrying a 30lb pack. There are a few very important principles to keep in mind:
1- You need to be used to carrying weight on your back/shoulders and hips.
2- Most of the weight should be carried on your hips, a good, padded waistband is critical. 75% of the weight on the hips, 25% on the shoulders.
3- The heaviest items should be on the bottom and as close to your back as possible.
4- The distance between where the shoulder straps are attached to the pack and the hip belt is very important. Make sure the pack fits your body correctly.

Good luck on Rainier

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by mtvalley » Mon May 20, 2013 4:55 am

There's a difference between "gym fit" and "mountain fit" as you'll discover on Rainier. Upper body strength isn't much help on glacier climbs and too much bulk may be counterproductive. I made a similar error before my first ever climb (also Rainier). Since then I haven't lifted weights at all and feel much faster and efficient at altitude.

The muscles that should bear the bulk of your pack aren't upper body but rather in the hips, mainly the flexors but also the abductors as the weight increases. The way to train these is by hiking with a heavy pack or doing a lot of running particularly on hills.


Also, going guided you'll be expected to carry group gear as well. On my guided Emmons climb my pack was 55 pounds. When I went back a month later unguided it was only 48 lbs. If you're struggling with 40 it's gonna be a miserable climb.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Wastral » Mon May 20, 2013 6:19 pm

1) Have you ever had a neck/shoulder injury?

Probably and might not even remember it. I took a long look back and finally figured out where my neck pain came from when carrying a pack. 30-40lbs even without a hipbelt shouldn't create pain even if it is a TINY ill fitting pack. I believe you have a previous injury or your muscles tense up big time like mine do and give a monster headache.

2) Can be pack pushing on your shoulder blade pushing it forward and if you have injured your shoulder in your past, it was probably never healed as good as it was before. This push forward will then spike up your neck causing your muscles to tense up screwing up your spine alignment. Lifting weights does not help. Have to do LONG reps 40+ to get into endurance muscle training for mountaineering. The typical 10-20 reps don't do jack squat for mountaineering.

3) You need to learn how to pack your pack( I have no idea if you are doing this or not, but quite possible especially in the training scenario). If carrying water in pack as training, put a block(s) of foam in bottom of pack, pushing that water UP higher on your back. Get it to the top of the pack. Weight might have been completely dumped in the bottom of your pack forcing your body to lean WAAAAY forward while training to compensate. Your muscles are NOT used to holding your head forward like a panting dog. Need to get that weight as close to your back and as high as possible limiting the amount of "lean" you need to remain in balance.

PS. I have landed on my head via a trampoline accident of which gives me bad tension headaches. Likewise I hyper extended my left shoulder catching a rock climbing fall and it has never been the same since. I have compensated by doing massive numbers of pull ups and this has helped tremendously. Likewise I got a McHale pack that completely takes the weight off of the top of my shoulders and I have never had a tension headache and severe pain from a pack since.

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by ScottyP » Tue May 21, 2013 3:42 am

Everyone is different. I have little to no illiac crest in my hips. That is what supports the weight. I use a aether 70 for training but at 40#s need to shift to my Gregory Shasta. Try on a lot of packs till you find yours. I have down carried over 80#s in the Gregory without any back issues at all. Keep looking...

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Ben Beckerich

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Re: Heavy pack is a pain in my back

by Ben Beckerich » Sat May 25, 2013 2:42 am

I posted in this thread, right after Excitable Boy.. where my mufuccin post?
where am i going... and why am i in this handbasket?

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